With more than 50,000 applicants per year, you might think that the University of Maryland—College Park admissions committee would want to create a fast-paced assembly line for application reviews that is 99% based on the hard numbers like GPA and SAT scores. Yet, in addition to those important data points and the 650-word Common App essay, prospective Terrapins are also asked to complete five short “Complete this Sentence” essays as part of a genuinely holistic admissions process.

 (Want to learn more about How to Get Into the University of Maryland—College Park? Visit our blog entitled: How to Get Into the University of Maryland: Admissions Data and Strategies for all of the most recent admissions data as well as tips for gaining acceptance.)

As the University of Maryland becomes more selective—the acceptance rate was just 41% last year—applicants need to find ways to stand out from the competition. Fortunately, these five short answer essays provide just such an opportunity. Below are the University of Maryland’s supplemental prompts for the 2021-22 admissions cycle along with tips about how to address each one.

University of Maryland: Supplemental Essay Prompts 2021-22

Applicants must complete each of the following fill-in-the-blank responses in 160 characters (max) each:

1) If I could travel anywhere, I would go to… (160 characters)

There’s nothing wrong with simply naming a popular and/or exotic city if you wish, but don’t feel like that is your sole option with this essay. You could travel to see a particular painting in an art gallery in Finland. You could travel through time to have a conversation with 19th century women’s right’s hero Elizabeth Cady Stanton. You could travel to Montana’s Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument to dig for dinosaur fossils alongside paleontologists. There are no shortage of ways to create an answer that contains more depth and meaning than simply saying “Paris, because it has beautiful architecture.”

2) The most interesting fact I ever learned from research was… (160 characters)

“But wait, I’m a 17/18-year-old who has done some experiments in Chemistry class, but I didn’t exactly win a Nobel Prize for learning how to safely use a Bunsen burner. What do I put!!??” Applicants sometimes panic when they first read this question, but are relieved to know that the expectation is that you are only expected to cite a finding from someone else’s research that you found meaningful and enlightening. Also keep in mind that, if you aren’t interested in the hard sciences, there is plenty of research that takes place outside of STEM realm. Some ideas include:

  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • History
  • Sports
  • Fitness
  • Finance
  • The Environment

3) In addition to my major, my academic interests include… (160 characters)

Note the operative phrase here—“In addition to my major.” This is a chance to talk about one or more of your academic passions that are a) an extension of your major b) separate from your major or c) part of interdisciplinary connection between your major and another discipline.

Of course, the second key word here is “academic” so you’ll want to make sure that the subject or subjects you wish to discuss are at least somewhat related to an area that could be studied in college. Use this prompt to showcase your diverse interests and intellectual passions and remember that “academic” in a college setting means more than just straight subjects like high school biology, geometry, or world history. In a collegiate setting, there are academic offerings in psychology, art, criminal justice, philosophy, artificial intelligence, and hundreds of other expansive and intriguing options so don’t feel overly-constrained!

4) My favorite thing about last Tuesday was… (160 characters)

You could look back at your Google Calendar or old texts in a quest to uncover whether last Tuesday was the day you reheated beef stroganoff for dinner or whether that was the night you ordered Uber Eats from Chipotle while studying for a Calculus final. However, there is another way to reimagine the question which removes “last Tuesday’s” random and limiting presence altogether. Instead, change the question to, “What is something that has happened to me recently that may have seemed small/everyday-ish, but truly mattered to me and communicates something about my character/personality?”

Think of this prompt as a chance to show off your skills of observation and reflection. Even in 160 characters, try to paint a picture of your appreciation for one of life’s small moments.

5) Something you might not know about me is… (160 characters)

During an admissions interview, the conversation between an applicant and an admissions officer has the chance to veer into more personal territory where commonalities are revealed and a human connection is forged. Since the University of Maryland is not able to offer evaluative interviews, think of this question as a substitute chance to become more than just a name on an application. Whether you decide to pick something light and humorous or sincere and vulnerable (either is perfectly fine), aim for something that cannot be gleaned elsewhere in your application materials.

One example of what not to do would be to say “I work as a camp counselor in the summer” if that was already listed in the Activities section.

How important is the essay at the University of Maryland?

The essays at the University of Maryland are rated as an “important” factor in their evaluation process, alongside class rank, recommendations, talent/ability, first-generation status, and state residency. The Common App essays as well as the UMD-College Park supplements are weighted more heavily in the admissions process than factors such as extracurricular activities, legacy status, race/ethnicity, or work experience.

Want Personalized Essay Assistance?

If you are interested in working with one of College Transitions’ experienced and knowledgeable essay coaches as you craft your University of Maryland—College Park supplements, we encourage you to get a quote today.